At Matter Of Form we are deeply passionate about the travel sector and the innate wanderlust in us all. Our latest whitepaper, the ‘Future of Adventure and Exploration’, delves into the often contradictory key trends regarding modern travel and offers strategical recommendations to tackle the paradoxical landscape industry experts face today.
“Adventure and travel no longer are just about physically visiting a place, increasingly it’s about the experience and the transformation that it offers us. Adventure is as much about learning something new about a place as it is about learning about oneself.” Philippa Wagner, Creative Strategy Director, Ennismore.
As the last in a wider series assessing the Future of Adventure and Exploration, this article will comment on the rise in demand for luxury adventures and experiences.
The concept of luxury, as defined by ostentatious displays of wealth, or endless gathering of possessions for many seems at odds with this dual desire for self-betterment, and a sense of responsibility to the planet and the people they share it with.
Under Better World and a Better Me, the traditional relationship between money and social status erodes.
81% of 13–34-year-olds agree that showing off the expensive things you have bought on social media is ‘not cool’ (Source: Y Pulse).
Luxury is intangible, and unique to each individual but people still want to be amazed by things, and this idea of surprise and joy, is driving new behaviours across categories.
“Luxury is increasingly a dirty word in the world of hospitality – notions of luxury are changing (as they have done in the fashion industry) and are increasingly time, simplicity, exclusiveness and true authenticity (something that is hard to find in an over Instagrammed/fake news reality). Fogo Island Inn, Canada is a great example of the new kinds of locations that represent adventure and luxury – or High Lonesome Beque Colorado for the ‘exactly as wild as you want it’ experience,” Philippa Wagner, Creative Strategy Director, Ennismore.
One-off exclusive adventures that offer an element of danger, prioritise out of-the-ordinary pursuits and ensure a great story for travellers to tell on their return are on the increase.
“Adventure is not just luxury – as adventure comes in many forms, however in a world where anyone can access anything thanks to the democratisation of the internet means that traditionally out of reach places are no longer so inaccessible. As such there is certainly a renewed interest for extreme adventure – going to places that no one has been to before or does not have the infrastructure until a travel company comes in and places it there, such as Black Tomato/Blink that supports true flexibility and enables people’s desire for enhanced adventure, by creating new locations that are set up specifically for them in unique locations working with locals to offer truly unique experiences. Or Aurora Artika, a start-up travel company offering unique and special experiences that push the boundaries of the everyday,” Philippa Wagner, Creative Strategy Director, Ennismore.
Blink is a bespoke travel service also from Black Tomato that enables customers to select any point on the map for their next luxury adventure, ‘Blink offers you the chance to experience locations so private and untouched that no one else will have stayed there before and never will again in the same way,’ explains the agency.
French cruise line Ponant hopes to bring polar travel to the next level with their two new expedition ships – Le Lapérouse and Le Champlain. The design of the vessels enables guests to fully experience the harsh weather conditions and the landscape through features such as submerged cameras projecting live images, an underwater observation lounge and vibrating ‘body-listening sofas’ to which hydrophones transmit sounds of the sea.
London based Blue Marble Private is offering an opportunity to travel to the depths of the Atlantic to explore the wreckage of the Titanic. The eight-day mission will take just nine adventurers on board a specially designed submersible guided by a crew of experts from OceanGate Expeditions, which specialises in underwater exploration for scientific and military purposes.
There is a growing appetite for intense, often painful sensations, as more people value experiences that deliver sensory extremes and push their limits. Australian lager brand Foster’s hosted an escape-the-room-style game in London called The Melbourne 1888 Challenge. Participants chose to endure 45 minutes of mental and physical challenges in intense heat that replicated the conditions of the Australian outback. Survival skills, testing your physical and mental capabilities is a way of awakening dulled senses but also preparing yourself in uncertain times.
The global adventure tourism market is set to grow at a compound annual rate of 46% from 2016 to 2020.
“Silk Road, Georgia, Uzbekistan are all up and coming destination – for people who have already been to South East Asia or more popular parts of Latin America. So Central Asia becomes a new frontier,” Lyn Hughes, Editor-in-chief / Founder, Wanderlust.
But adventure is not just about wild locations or physically demanding outdoor activities but places that have been previously inaccessible or dangerous due to conflict, religious or political instability. In the near future Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, Venezuela, Syria, Libya, Mali, Yemen, Antarctica, Svalbard and Greenland will all feature on travel itineraries.
The total number of visitors travelling to Antarctica between 2016 and 2017 rose by 15% compared to the previous season, and will continue to grow a further 5% in 2018 (source: International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO)).
“There has been such an evolution in accommodation that there is a new opening every week, a treehouse, a glass igloo, a bubble room or increasingly accommodation in inhospitable locations. Just this year Shipwreck lodge opened on skeleton coast in Namibia. So often people are planning trips around the incredible accommodation itself or because it is a location that is being opened up to tourism for the first time,” Lyn Hughes, Editor-in-chief / Founder, Wanderlust.
In January 2017, UK travel company Untamed Borders hosted the first ski trip to Iraq and Saudi Arabia is also opening its doors a little wider, attempting a slight re-brand away from and ultra-conservative state to welcome tourist dollars into its oil-dependent economy. UK travel operator Steppes Travel introduced a £4,895 tour to Saudi Arabia in the company of author and local expert Peter Harrigan.
Saudi Arabia’s travel and tourism sector is expected to contribute more than £61.2bn to the country’s GDP by 2026, (Source: World Travel and Tourism Council).
Role of Tech In Advance
“VR is, of course, having its moment in adventure and travel – anecdotally we are hearing about people who are so busy to travel that they are using VR to ‘visit’ places and then have ‘photos’ taken so that they feel like they have experienced it and can show off that they have been! ChōsenExperiences has an interesting user interface that is using technology to offer new ways to explore where people would like to go. Alexa Hospitality is blending tech and convenience and we will see this increase as people will expect AI to enhance their adventure,” Philippa Wagner, Creative Strategy Director, Ennismore.
The idea of virtually visiting new places or realities as discussed earlier will continue to develop apace but tech is also opening up the real world by allowing access and connection further and further afield.
Pilotless drones will allow the delivery of supplies to some of the most remote corners of the world opening them up to conscious visitors and minimizing the environmental impact of such tourism.
Canadian start-up Sonnet Labs has created a long-range mesh network device that pairs with smartphones to send text messages, images and GPS locations in remote areas, without needing cellular coverage or internet access. The device, also called Sonnet, has a battery life of 36 hours and is available for pre-order now.
Land Rover’s phone the Explore is equipped with a factory-fitted screen protector, can withstand a drop of 1.8 metres, be submerged in fresh and salt water, and survive thermal shock, severe temperatures and humidity. The phone is also kitted with a powerful battery built to endure constant GPS navigation. For longer expeditions, users can opt for the Adventure Pack add-on, which doubles the battery life and includes a GPS patch radio antenna.
Within the series, we will look to explore further travel themes such as Voyages of Self Discovery, Transformative Travel and Human Touch. If you would like to read more, you can download the full ‘Future of Adventure’ report. If you wish to discuss any of the content or hear our thoughts on how to put some of our insights into action, please get in touch via [email protected] and we would be delighted to have a chat.